Transformers: The Movie was is an animated feature film based on the original Transformers toyline. It was released in the United States on August 8, 1986.
Often referred to by fans simply as "the movie", this film opens with characters who had been featured in the first two years of the toyline and associated media (cartoons, comic books, etc.), but quickly introduces new characters and kills many of the old ones to make room. In particular, Optimus Prime, Megatron, and Starscream are all destroyed during the course of the film.
Primary characters and cast
- Optimus Prime...Peter Cullen
- Ultra Magnus...Robert Stack
- Perceptor...Paul Eiding
- Hot Rod...Judd Nelson
- Kup...Lionel Stander
- Blurr...John Moschitta Jr.
- Springer...Neil Ross
- Arcee...Susan Blu
- Wreck-Gar...Eric Idle
- Daniel Witwicky...David Mendenhall
- Megatron...Frank Welker
- Starscream...Chris Latta
- Galvatron...Leonard Nimoy
- Unicron...Orson Welles
A planet-sized Transformer called Unicron who eats other planets is approaching Cybertron. As part of their continuing wars, the Autobots and Decepticons have a fierce battle on Earth which sees both Optimus Prime and Megatron killed. Prime passes the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus. Megatron is transformed by Unicron into Galvatron. Starscream (briefly) assumes leadership of the Decepticons, but is killed when Galvatron arrives at Cybertron. Galvatron then chases the surviving Autobots from Earth across space, splitting them up and taking the Matrix. The Autobots find their way back to each other, and follow Galvatron back to Cybertron just as Unicron transforms into robot mode and begins to eat Cybertron. Travelling inside Unicron, Hot Rod recovers the Matrix, transforms into Rodimus Prime, and uses the Matrix to destroy Unicron.
In the first sequence of the film, a mechanical planet called Unicron is shown travelling through the depths of space, then approaching and destroying another metal planet which has robotic inhabitants, much like Cybertron. During the attack, robots, vehicles, buildings, and even large chunks of rock float off the surface of the planet and spiral into the large "mouth" on Unicron.
The scene then transitions to Cybertron, and the narrator explains that it is the year 2005, and that the Decepticons are now in control of the planet. The Autobots are preparing to launch an assault to retake the planet from hidden bases on two of Cybertron's moons. The Autobots launch a shuttle to pick up a final shipment of energon from Earth before they strike.
Plans for the attack are overheard by Laserbeak (G1), who reports back to Megatron. The Decepticons attack the Autobot shuttle en route to Earth, wiping out its crew. Using the Autobots' own shuttle, the Decepticons are able to get very close to the Autobots' base on Earth, Autobot City, before they are detected, and and begin a devastating surprise attack on the unprepared city.
During the battle at Autobot City, both Optimus Prime (G1) and Megatron suffer mortal injuries, and a number of other characters are also killed. Eventually the Decepticons retreat, but the damage suffered by the Autobots has been severe. Shortly after the battle, Prime lies on his deathbed. He passes the reigns of leadership to Ultra Magnus (G1) and gives him the Matrix of Leadership. Prime relates a prophecy: "One day, an Autobot shall rise from our ranks, and use the power of the Matrix to light our darkest hour." He then gives the oath, "'Till All Are One" and dies. This sequence of events is observed remotely by Unicron, who appears unusually concerned by the survival of the Matrix.
The Decepticons are making their escape aboard Astrotrain, but are too heavy for him to get them all home under his own power. After putting the matter to a fair vote, the Decepticons decide to throw their injured members off the ship to better the chance of survival for the rest. One of the most severely injured Decepticons is Megatron. Starscream tosses him out and claims leadership of the Decepticon army.
Megatron and the other adrift Decepticons then encounter Unicron interstellar space. Unicron offers to rebuild Megatron and his men in exchange for their service. Megatron agrees, and is reformatted into Galvatron. The other Decepticons are turned into Cyclonus (G1), Scourge (G1), and The Sweeps. Unicron provides them with a ship, and sends them to kill Ultra Magnus and destroy the Matrix, stating that the Matrix is the only thing which can stand in his way.
Galvatron first stops at Cybertron to take his revenge by killing Starscream and reclaiming leadership of the Decepticons. Almost immediately afterwards, Unicron arrives in Cyertron's vicinity and devours at least two moons -- both of the Autobots' moon bases are destroyed. Under coercion by Unicron, Galvatron finally heads to Earth to kill Ultra Magnus, but Magnus and the other surviving Autobots flee in a pair of shuttles. Eventually Galvatron manages to cause one shuttle to crash on yet another metal planet (Quintessa), and detonates the other with a volley of missiles. However, the Autobots in the second shuttle escape unnoticed by separating the front portion of their shuttle just before impact.
The Autobots in the crashed shuttle, Hot Rod (G1), Kup (G1), and the Dinobots (G1), find themselves separated and in a hostile environment. Hot Rod and Kup are captured by a squad of Alligatorcons and taken before a Quintesson judge and his court. While being held there, they learn the name and nature of Unicron from Kranix, a survivor of the planet destroyed in the opening of the film. Meanwhile, the Dinobots encounter and befriend a young, wild Autobot named Wheelie who has been living alone on Quintessa. Together, they crash the court just as Hot Rod and Kup are fighting losing odds against the Quintessons' Sharkticons. The tide is turned, and the Autobots commandeer a Quintesson ship.
The other group of Autobots has landed on Planet Junk to make repairs, but are attacked yet again by Galvatron. During the battle, Ultra Magnus tries to open the Matrix to use its power, but is unable to do so, and instead is killed. Galvatron absconds the Matrix, taking it away to Unicron. The remaining Autobots -- Perceptor, Springer, Arcee, and Spike's son Daniel -- are then ambused by Junkions, the natives of Planet Junk, who are also giant transforming robots. This battle is cut short, however, by the arrival of Hot Rod's group in their Quintesson ship. After exchanging the Universal greeting they all make friends, and the Junkions restore Ultra Magnus to life. Together, the whole group travels to Cybertron to try to recover the Matrix.
Galvatron attempts to open the Matrix to use its power against Unicron, but is also unable to get it open. Unicron, not pleased with this attempted treachery, shocks Galvatron by transforming from a planet into a planet-sized robot. Unicron then plucks Galvatron off his chest and swallows him, Matrix and all. He then begins attacking Cybertron itself. Shockwave scrambles the Decepticon forces to defend the planet, but they are ineffective against so large an enemy. Shortly the Autobots arrive from Junk, and fly the Quintesson ship straight through Unicron's eye. This impact destroys the ship, and the Autobots fall out inside Unicron. Hot Rod, separated from the others, eventually runs into Galvatron. During their fight, Hot Rod gets his hands on the Matrix and hears Optimus' voice speak the words, "Arise, Rodimus Prime." Hot Rod grows in stature, adopts a much sterner demeanor, and quickly dispatches Galvatron by tossing him through Unicron's hull out into space. He then opens the Matrix, which fills Unicron with light and begins destroying him.
In the meantime, the other Autobots inside Unicron have located some of their comrades from the moon bases who had been presumed dead, including Bumblebee and Daniel's father, Spike. The Autobots, including Rodimus, escape through Unicron's remaining eye just as he begins to fall apart and explode. The scene then immediately shifts to the surface of Cybertron, where -- for unclear reasons -- the Autobots seem to be in charge again. Rodimus predicts an era of peace and prosperity, and the film closes with a shot of Unicron's severed head still floating in orbit around Cybertron.
Significance in Transfandom
Trivia and controversies
This film was one of, if not the very last, professional performance by Orson Welles. According to production materials shown at BotCon 2000 by Tim Finn, the voice recording sessions for TF:TM were done on September 10 and 11 of 1985. Welles died on October 10 of that same year. It has often been speculated that Unicron's last line ("Destiny... you cannot destroy my destiny...!") was recorded by another actor -- possibly Nimoy -- because it sounds different than the other lines. This speculation has been quashed by statements by Transformers voice director Wally Burr.
Although the movie was billed in some advertisements before its theatrical release as being "widescreen", the movie was in fact animated in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. It was intended to be matted down in the projector by the projectionist when screened, but all video transfers of the movie were done without mattes, meaning that there is actually more picture visible in the video and DVD releases than there would have been in theaters.
The Dinobot Snarl is mysteriously absent from almost the entire movie, even though the Dinobots as a group are featured prominantly. It is unclear why this is the case, but one possible explanation is that copies of the script which have come into fans' hands repeatedly list the Dinobots but never make mention of Snarl by name. In fact, at one point the script refers to "the four Dinobots". Despite this, Snarl does appear in two very brief shots, although he has no lines and no action.